The Blue credit cards for personal use are very well known. On the other hand, The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express (a CreditCardForum advertising partner) is not heavily promoted on television or in print media. Is this deal too good to be true or is it a diamond in the rough?
For this review, we will break to features to consider into 5 parts. Feel free to skip ahead if certain aspects don’t resonate with your business credit card needs or interests.
1. Rates and fees
The Blue Business Plus card has no annual fee. This can be a very important factor if you are running a side business and just want to segregate your business-related spending from your personal card charges. Or, if you are truly bootstrapping a start-up, every penny counts.
Unlike their Green/Gold/Platinum charge cards, the American Express Blue Business Plus card allows you to carry a balance if you wish to since its a credit card. Check current terms for APR and length of any 0 percent period on purchases.
2. Rewards on spending
The Blue Business Plus card lets you earn points in American Express’s Membership Rewards® program:
- Get rewarded for business as usual. Earn 2X points on everyday business purchases such as office supplies or client dinners.
- 2X applies to the first $50,000 in purchases per year, 1 point per dollar thereafter.
The Membership Rewards program (where all these points will live) is robust. You can transfer to AmEx’s airline partners, redeem via the Membership Rewards travel portal, cash in for cash-back or online shopping and much more.
Long term, if you want to convert your points to a cash-back equivalent, this card doesn’t provide optimal value since Membership Rewards points don’t have the most favorable conversion rate for statement credits. However, if you prefer to splurge on travel using your rewards, it’s a different story. Why? Because since these are Membership Rewards points, they can be converted to frequent flyer miles on a number of different airlines, often on a 1 to 1 basis.
3. OPEN Savings Partners
All of the American Express Business cards participate in the Open Savings program, which scores you automatic discounts -OR- additional rewards on eligible spending at participating partners.
Here are a few examples but please note that partners, terms and conditions are subject to change without notice.
2 additional MR points on each eligible dollar spent on eligible services (up to $20,000 per year FedEx Express and Ground combined.)
2 additional MR points for each eligible dollar spent with Hertz.
2 additional MR points per dollar (on up to $30,000 at HP.com spending per calendar year).
There are no hoops to jump through with the OPEN Savings network — you receive the benefit automatically with your eligible American Express OPEN business card. Since the Blue Business Plus uses Membership Rewards points, you will get those (instead of the percentage discount) on eligible purchases with OPEN partners.
These savings won’t help every small business owner or entrepreneur out there, but if you consistently spend money on shipping, travel, and printing, the extra points could potentially add up quickly.
4. Shopping Benefits
As with all American Express cards, there are a number of cardmember benefits. These are a summary only – consult issuer for restrictions, terms and conditions.
- Purchase Protection
- Extended Warranty
- Return Protection
5. Travel benefits
These are a summary only – consult issuer for restrictions, terms and conditions.
- Car Rental Loss & Damage – Car rental insurance from your credit card won’t cover everything and is secondary to your regular auto insurance, but it can still come in handy. Something you need to know is that you don’t get this benefit outside of the United States. AmEx only provides domestic coverage on its business cards.
- Insurance of Luggage – Only applies to your luggage while traveling by a Common Carrier Conveyance (like if you’re a passenger on a plane). If you travel on airlines that have a propensity for misplacing bags this coverage is quite valuable.
- Global Assist Hotline – a free help line you can call when 100+ miles away from home. They can offer you advice for all sorts of predicaments.
- Travel Accident Insurance – Benefits may vary by state so check with AmEx. This also applies to Common Carrier Conveyance travel only (so if you’re driving a car that won’t count!)
- Arranging Roadside Assistance – I have seen some credit card reviews for AmEx cards list “roadside assistance” as a benefit. You do not get roadside assistance paid for with the the Business Blue card. What you do get is a hotline that will arrange for the service, but you still have to pay for the actual roadside assistance.
Worth getting… or not?
The American Express Blue Business Plus is noteworthy considering it has no annual fee. The ability to earn Membership Reward points without paying an annual fee is also an important feature. This card is probably best if you’re starting out and don’t want to do the math of figuring out if any reward earnings will be worth an annual fee — since there’s no cover charge it can just help with cash flow and budgeting for a kitchen-table business or an entrepreneurial venture of any size.
However, if you will have significant business spending and need to shop across a wide variety of merchant categories it might be worth getting a Visa or MasterCard, both of which have greater merchant acceptance than American Express.
Also, it’s worth considering that there are great business card reward programs out there with annual fees that can be a great deal if your spending is sufficient to offset those costs.
The Business Platinum card from American Express offers a slew of luxury travel benefits for the business road-warrior and is offering its own rewards boosts right now.
And the Plum card offers pay-off flexibility for business that need it.
So, research your options before deciding which card best fits your small business credit needs.
This review was written or last updated May 2017